Mike Freer MP Constituency Office Occupation

freer mp

On 22nd November 2013, squat campaigners occupied the forecourt of the Tory Constituency Office in Finchley, London, the office of right-wing politician Mike Freer MP, one of the architects behind Section 144 LASPO (the law which criminalises squatting in empty residential premises). The constituency office is also famous for being the office and constituency of the failed (and now thankfully deceased) British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

When the campaigners arrived, Freer, in a PR move, invited them off the pavement and onto the forecourt. The squatters pointed out to the police that he would now need to put that in writing and to apply to a court to get them removed. The campaigners have had a warm and supportive reception from locals. The protest is calling for others to join them, or to support by bringing veggie food, warm drinks, or bedding/camping equipment. All peaceful campaigners and supporters are welcome to visit the camp at 212 Ballards Lane, nearest tube being West Finchley.

The squatters, many who helped save the Friern Barnett Library and others fresh from their violent eviction from the Bohemia Pub , made the following statement, making reference to the death of Daniel Guantlett earlier this year:

“We took the site after permission was given by police and those in the office to go onto front yard and use for protest. We are protesting to repeal Section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act banning squatting in disused buildings. The law is causing many more to freeze to death this winter. We want mike to come engage with homeless constituents or spend a night out on the cold sleeping on the streets, then maybe he think about repealing this draconian law.”

Meanwhile Mike Freer MP had the following to say, repeating much of the propaganda long discredited by the letter to the Guardian signed by 160 lawyers highlighting media and political fear-mongering and obfuscation of the facts:

“I supported the criminalisation of squatting because it was a big problem in my constituency. I don’t think it was right that hard working families that have saved would come home from holiday or having a house refurbished and would find someone else living in it.”

With this level of bare-faced lying, it seems Mike Freer may just be the next Mike Weatherley….

Our Media

A good write-up and film-interview with the occupiers from rikki, London’s foremost frontline independent journalist:
“Protest occupation camp against Section 144 squatting law at Finchley Tory Office of Mike Freer” [indyrikki, 23 November 2013]

Occupy London (which the Met Police tried to label a “terrorist” organisation) have a write-up, interview with Pete the Temp, and some other resources from the occupation at:
“Mike Freer MP Occupied” [Occupy London, 22 November 2013]

Mainstream Media

Some of the usual shenanigans from London’s favourite Russian oligarch’s paper, the Evening Standard, with: Margaret Thatcher’s old HQ is targeted in protest at new laws on squatting [Evening Standard, 25 November 2013]. The Standard has a number of clever little techniques up its sleeve dealing with squatting stories in a seemingly “balanced and objective manner”. While giving both sides the same amount of interview time, it seems to focus a little too much on the occupation as protesting at the “birthplace of Thatcherism” rather than the real motivation of the occupiers, which is a protest in solidarity with the street homeless who are freezing to death while tens of thousands of buildings stand empty. Another little gem is, running alongside the article is a link to an article entitled: “Homeless Romanian man jailed for “evil” sex attack on girl, 24”; this is no doubt a subtle attempt to tie in together “homelessness”, “sex attack”, “squatters”, “Eastern Europeans”. Evening Standard have done this once before, using what SQUASH believe to be fabricated statistics from the Met Police.